March 23, 2007

Iraq: Failure, Fitna And The Best We Can Do

Or, as Dick Gephardt might say, a miserable failure.

Juan Cole lists Bush's top ten mistakes in Iraq for the past 4 years, with invading in the first place unsurprisingly hitting the number one spot.

Eric Alterman responded to the war's fourth anniversary with the suggestion that we take Mr. Bush at his word, more or less that we'll be stuck in this war even if Laura and Barney are Bush's only two supporters:

... Bush’s war lack[s] a military solution and is facing rapidly dwindling chances for a political solution, yet it will continue through the end of his presidency because no one of authority in the administration is capable of admitting a mistake. The saddest part of this entire horrific story is how much of it was predictable from the start. Remember John Kerry’s question about being the last person to “die for a mistake?” How would you like to be the mother, father, son, or daughter to lose your loved one for the same damn mistake a second time?

This is the truth: horrible news comes out of Iraq every single day. Like, for example, the latest suicide bombing:

IRAQI Deputy Prime Minister Salam al-Zubayi was wounded last night in a suicide bombing, only hours after Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon escaped a rocket attack.

Mr Zubayi was rushed to a US military hospital in Baghdad after three people were killed and 10 others wounded in a double suicide and car bomb attack near the Deputy Prime Minister's home, office and mosque close to the highly fortified Green Zone in the centre of the Iraq capital.

Earlier, an insurgent rocket narrowly missed the Baghdad building where Mr Ban and Mr Maliki were holding a press conference to announce that the security situation in Iraq was improving. ...

Reality's well-known liberal bias strikes again. But wait, there's more. A few items from Reuters' daily security report from Iraq, which freshly demonstrates every day a level of public violence and mayhem that would alarm anyone:

... * BAGHDAD - Five people were killed and 20 wounded when a car bomb exploded in the Baghdad Shi'ite stronghold of Sadr City, police said. The blast hit a used car lot in the al- Habibiya area of Sadr City.

* DIWANIYA - The bullet-riddled bodies of a woman and her teenage daughter were found in Diwaniya, police said.

* FALLUJA - A U.S. marine was killed in combat in Anbar on Thursday, the U.S. military said.

BAGHDAD - A U.S. soldier was killed by a roadside bomb that hit his patrol in western Baghdad, the U.S. military said in a statement. It did not say when the incident happened.

... DIWANIYA - Police said they found the bodies of two policemen on Thursday in Diwaniya, 180 km (110 miles) south of Baghdad. The men had been shot.

... MOSUL - Police said the bodies of four people, including two teenagers, were found on Thursday in Mosul, 390 km north of Baghdad. The victims had been tortured and handcuffed before being killed. ...

Targets for attacks include police, government officials and businesses. All members of society, including obvious non-combatants, are at risk. Only four years ago, Riverbend wrote that Shi'a and Sunni lived in harmony in Iraq, happily intermarrying and hardly making it an issue. Today, Iraq is a front for the most violent confrontations of the two branches of Islam, and rapidly becoming a proxy for the long-standing animosity between Shi'a Iran and Sunni Saudi Arabia. Today, militants are turning to chemical attacks and Iraqi Christians are imperiled in their home country. Today, the Kurds are getting targeted by bombings.

Alterman mentioned in his article that the U.S.' mishandling of Saddam's trial and execution had turned the reprehensible dictator into something of a martyr. But surely, if anyone in the Arab world in general or in Iraq in particular is missing Hussein, that was probably just icing on the longing for the stability he represented. Professor Walter Andrews' must-read 2004 editorial on whether or not the invasion made anyone safer brought out a point that must be on the minds of many in the Middle East today:

... In the Middle East the one major thing that legitimizes a ruler or regime is the ability to provide stability and security. There is a venerable saying in Arabic that goes something like this, "Better a hundred years of tyranny than one day of fitna (civil chaos)." This is how a Saddam Hussein can be seen by many as an acceptable ruler. ...

Iraq has now had four years of fitna, to the benefit of no one besides the thieving U.S. military support contractors and whoever was paid off with the plane loads of cash that disappeared into the ether over there.

If there continues to be a justification for this war that could be made with a straight face, I can't think of it. So as much as I would have liked to see a stronger bill come out of Congress, the current passable compromise at least establishes a line in the sand and puts the Democrats on the side of getting the heck out. There's no way Bush is going to agree to get out right now, to the enduring shame of the entire country, but a stand can be made in favor of doing the right thing and that isn't nothing. In fact, that there's even such a bill at all is likely the result of sustained and vocal public opposition to not only the war, but a full range of Bush administration travesties that would probably have been ignored otherwise.

If all we can do is shift the window of political debate, then I say keep doing it. Because, as Atrios says, it's this or nothing. At present, it seems to me that nothing would be pretty irresponsible.

Posted by natasha at March 23, 2007 09:49 AM | Iraq | Technorati links |